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2010.12.06 at 02:10 AM CST
(Monday, December 06th, 2010)
A few updated links:
2010.12.01 at 03:15 AM CST
(Wednesday, December 01st, 2010)
And now some things I think more people should be reading, investigating,
supporting, and/or discussing:
WikiLeaks - News and Background
- EFF: HTTPS
current example of security theater (and a
- Related to the airport security scanner bits above: notice how some/many
government officials are exempt? I wonder if the TSA would be allowed to
continue if no one were exempt?
- The idea that those who have not had their civil rights systematically
denied by their own country (white, straight, middle class, mostly male,
citizens of the United States) should not say to GLBTQI people: "be patient,"
"you'll get your rights, just calm down," "it gets better," or "have faith in
the younger generations" until they as well have lived without their civil
rights. Only then do I feel they can tell me how to feel or deal with the
current situation. Yes, I'm a bit angry about this and the whole situation;
would you not be? And to my friends who read this and may have done this, I
don't hold it against you; I bring it up so you can be aware of a perspective
you've probably not thought of before. Also, we will not be silent until
we have our civil rights, dammit. Discussion, protest, political action,
etc. are all necessary for things to change. Expect those, but realize that we
need your help too. :)
- A couple of links from The Transport Politic regarding urban design and
transit design in the US (as compared to Europe): Transit
Works Best When It's Not Highway-Bound, Light
Rail Along Road Rights-of-Way, and Strasbourg's
Tram Expands Again.
- Finally, two links to information about the proposed, under discussion
urban rail plan for Austin. Unfortunately, it does not have enough reserved
righ-of-way to function as the backbone of a larger rail transit system, which
Austin needs to truly become multi-modal, sustainable, and walkable. It is,
in my opinion, not visionary enough and not thinking far enough ahead. First,
from the City of Austin and second, from
the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan.
2010.12.01 at 02:45 AM CST
(Wednesday, December 01st, 2010)
Wow... Over two years since I updated...
Since November 2008, I've been working for Hostway. I've continued to
travel when I have time and have made it to Seattle, Maine, NYC (for HOPE), Chicago, Washington D.C., San
Francisco, and places in Texas to see family.
I am always behind with photo uploads, however here is a tiny sampling...
2008.02.15 at 03:05 AM CST
(Friday, February 15th, 2008)
Note: I'm putting this online in short list/note format after a long
update hiatus. --jarehart, 2010.12.01 @ 02:12 AM CST
First a few rough notes from two CAMPO TWG meetings:
- IMHO, route should go up Guadalupe if we do light rail/streetcar; we
can worry about San Jacinto corridor if/when state wants to redevelop the
parking garages and if/when UT wants rail up San Jacinto... for now serve
the already dense and going to stay dense corridor
- yes, we know it would be cool/useful to run out Manor road from
downtown to Mueller, but the surrounding neighborhood(s) opted out of the
VMU overlay (right?) so they don't want more density... maybe this means
we connect to Mueller later? or via another route? maybe several of the
neighborhoods that opted out of the VMU overlay this round will see that it
isn't so bad after a few years of other neighborhoods having experience?
- should be more like light rail (even if more like streetcar in
construction); i.e. possible to have longer trains (for greater
passenger/driver ratio), should have reserved right-of-way whereever possible,
should be electric, not diesel-electric
- apparently Krusee thinks/thought that a thru downtown - over Congress
bridge - out riverside - to the airport route would be inconvenient for
people arriving on the Red Line so they wouldn't want to use it (but then
added we should consider how crossing Congress bridge now could help for
eventual larger system as an afterthought (such was mentioned by the
consultant too as a consideration with regard to cost and usefulness to a
later, larger system)) and was thinking that it could be good to use
existing track and commuter rail type trains to get to the airport to reduce
cost; uhmm... f**k you Krusee, but thanks for trying to save face for
yourself so you look balanced... crossing the bridge, serving the airport,
serving downtown, serving the Guadalupe corridor, serving the Triangle, and
maybe serving Mueller now (if not later) are all good and should be done...
this line should help Austin and all of the people who travel to/through it,
not just Krusee's constituents or those commuting in... after all without
actual Austin residents, would all these commuters want to live near-ish
to Austin? besides it is a possible step one to a larger set of rail lines
in the area, so it shouldn't be judged/planned as having to solve all the
problems, but we should also not shoot future possibilities further in the
foot by being stupid now (or again)...
- some backstory from M1EK: Box and Horn by
M1EK's at Austinist
- a bit more info via
Ben Wear at the Statesman
- and more from
And a few related bits/updates from 2010:
2008.02.14 at 03:25 AM CST
(Thursday, February 14th, 2008)
I have several topics for tonight, so several will appear here with another
major topic in an upcoming post.
First, I wonder why SBC's name migration to AT&T results in a new circuit
ID for my DSL and why a new circuit ID results in incorrect link speeds
as well as no traffic passing over the line. My DSL was down from about 09:30
am on a Friday until 02:00 am on the following Monday. Speakeasy and Covad did
what they could, but ultimately it appears to have meant waiting for Bell to
fix things. Apparently Bell does residential DSL work around 02:00 am?
:-P (This is more amusement at the process than a complaint.)
Second, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned
Texas' law banning the sale of sex toys. In my opinion, it is about damn
time that silly thing was declared unconstitutional. For amusement, here is
a clip of the late Molly
Ivins discussing such for a documentary called the Dildo Diaries.
Third, some commentary on use of the word "gay" that I find inappropriate, yet
all too common. Earlier this evening (in irc) a technical question was asked
about probable file transfer speeds from a co-located machine to one on
residential cable via ftp and scp. A quick excerpt (nicknames other than
<foo> do you know if things like sandvine can degredate ftp traffic?
<foo> because people are only getting 1 mbps when the up load to my ftpd,
however, i get 10mbps down and 1mbs up for my connection?!
<bar> i do not understand
<bar> but no, sandvine has nothing to do with whatever that is
<foo> if i go to speedtest.net. i get 10 megabit per second down, and 1
megabit per second up
<foo> but if someone connects to my ftpd and uploads a file (which is my
downstream), they only get 1mbps. they should get 10mbps?
<bar> only if they have 10mbit upstream
<bar> which, if their connection is like yours, they don't
<foo> they were on a 100mbit link on a colo'd server...
<bar> are you sure your ftpd isn't limiting it
<bar> like you setup bandwidth limiting maybe?
<foo> it's a pretty default installation of proftpd on gentoo.
<bar> can they upload non-FTP at faster speed?
<bar> try scp
<foo> it could be the fact that i have a POS router. a zyxel router
directing all the traffic to that box. soon to be replaced with openbsd and
<clarkk> maybe their colo limits upstream even though they have a 100mbit
<bar> pretty gay colo if that's the case
<clarkk> and with scp, depending on cpu power, you may have encryption
as the speed limiter
<clarkk> gay != sucky
<bar> umm, ok
<clarkk> eh... i fail to see how it is ok to use the term "gay" to mean
"sucky" (or similar)... am i missing somethign?
<bar> internet vernacular?
<clarkk> i've heard it in non-internet uses
<clarkk> either way, i don't get it
<clarkk> *and* don't think it an appropriate use
<bar> well, i'm sorry to have offended your sensibilities
<clarkk> it happens more often... not sure i'd say you offended
<clarkk> maybe just hit a nerve at an inopportune time
Yes, I realize it is "just irc." However, I see this too often both online
and off. I think it stems from the larger problem that the term gay is still
"OK" for use describing something as "not good," "bad," or "sucky." I usually
refrain from mentioning this when it happens, but finally decided I'd had
enough. I tried to be polite and fair in my discussion, and I should note that
<bar> is not the only person I've seen do this in that
particular channel. Also, it might have been good for me to rephrase one of
my above quoted statements as, "I fail to see how the term 'gay' means 'sucky'
(or similar). Am I missing something?" To close, I think it is important that
the general perception of being gay as bad or weak needs to change for real
progress to be made toward societal acceptance of non-straight people.
Fourth, it appears Texas may have some function in this year's presidential
election, in that the state's delegates to the convention for the Democratic
Party may influence which of Senators Clinton or Obama ends up the Democratic nominee.
I do think that, as usual, the state will go for the Republican nominee in the
final election, so my vote in November will have less use than my vote in next
month's primary. Now I just have to actually decide for which to vote.
2008.02.01 at 05:15 PM CST
(Friday, February 01st, 2008)
Time for the "weekly" update on CAMPO TWG meetings. After finally waking up
early enough and not having other events require the flexibility/timing of my
car (like the last two weeks), I was able to walk/bus to the meeting on January
28. (Yay for being able to then walk to Little City and home again later as well.)
This meeting was presentations from the Austin - San Antonio Intermunicipal Rail
District (ASA) and Capital Metro.
(Also, for those that are interested, PDF versions of the slides and video of
the actual meetings are available from the the CAMPO TWG web
ASA, in ways similar to Capital Metro's MetroRail seems like it will be useful,
but we still need to solve transit for Austin itself. (Sound familiar? It is
exactly what I said with regard to the MetroRail red line.) One good thing is
that they've seen and like how Amtrak will partner with other organizations to
run services similar to this (such as the Downeaster between Boston and Portland,
ME). They hope to start service 2011 or 2012.
Capital Metro talked about their significant existing infrastructure and coming plans. They mentioned the
various types of mass transit (subway, commuter rail, light rail, streetcar,
bus rapid transit, local bus, and express bus) and where they think each is
best suited. They mentioned the history of rail transit in Austin and the
various proposals to bring it back from the mid-70s to now. One thing is they
still seem to think of streetcars as a good central Austin circulator (with
connection to the MetroRail red line). The problem is that a streetcar would
likely be stuck in traffic more than a bus, because a bus can drive around
obstacles and a streetcar can't. I suppose a streetcar could work better in
European cities which have historically had higher density, fewer people
driving, and people who keep their car(s) out of the way of rail due to
awareness: resulting in fewer things blocking track. Light rail, on the other
hand, has its own right-of-way (by definition) and can therefore move more
quickly. (There are, of course, light rail systems that switch between
reserved guideway and open street as they move through areas where reserved
guideway wasn't deemed feasible.) I think reserved guideway is more important
in the US as we typically have lower density (with less pain to own/park/drive
a car), and therefore more "trouble" with cars impacting transit performance,
due to the number of cars present. All that said, it is good to see Capital
Metro at least mention separate right-of-way and the fact that the most
successful transit systems use rail and bus to complement each other.
The fun thing about all this (as I've realized and as Capital Metro mentioned
several times), is that transit planning ties in to city planning quite a bit.
Good transit works better in more dense, walkable areas. Austin has only a
couple of these, though more are forming. There is still much debate over this
however. As mentioned by
M1EK, some neighborhoods in Austin are still resisting so-called vertical
mixed use (VMU) and other infill development. I wonder how long it'll be
before we get that denser areas where one doesn't drive all the time are more
environmentally sustainable, an that if we don't change our general pattern of
development, Austin will end up a big sprawling mess? I guess the consolation
is that we may have the right groups together talking about transit planning.
Now we just hope and comment when/where necessary and hope the correct decisions
get made. And, the more that I think about and discuss this general set of
topics with people, I realize that I didn't arrive where I am immediately. I
had to experience cities that are already far more dense and walkable than
Austin (usually with older, more extensive public transit) to come to the
conclusion that I would rather live in a city of that type, and that I think
Austin should adjust its growth guidelines accordingly. With that taken in to
consideration, I can see other people needing time to "get it." I just need
to remind myself of that last little bit. :-)
Next a few links from the Austin
In the short term, we're starting to get much more discussion within
neighborhoods as well as between neighborhoods and the city. More involvement,
even when people disagree is good, as it means people will hopefully come to
some consensus that all can support. The process takes time. Austin, in a
sense, is experimenting on itself. In 5 - 15 years we'll have some sort of
idea if it works well. Hopefully, we won't stand still during the process or
after and will continue to more actively and cooperatively plan our city; which
it seems we've not really done in the last 15ish years.
Finally, a few recent photos. Two are of Austin and one is hanabi (a.k.a.
flower fire or fireworks). :-)
2008.01.20 at 08:00 PM CST
(Sunday, January 20th, 2008)
I've now made it to two meetings of the CAMPO Transit Working
Group (TWG). It is refreshing to see many of the right local agencies
involved in a discussion regarding how to deal with transportation in Austin
and surrounding areas. The real test will be to see if the TWG has success
over time in developing a good solution, and in the process working with the
various stakeholders and their initiatives already in progress, where it makes
sense. (How's that for a carefully worded statement?) I am cautiously
optimistic for now.
I missed the first two or so meetings of the TWG in which they planned a course
of action and wrote up their charge. As I understand it, the two meetings I've
attended and at least two upcoming are set up so that the working group may
hear from various stakeholders and from those who have possibly relevant plans
to bring to attention. I presume after this series of presentation-centric
meetings are done they will move on to discussion and brainstorming of further
and/or new options.
In the January 7 meeting we heard from the cities of Leander and Elgin. Leander was mostly information about
development in progress centered around the coming MetroRail Red
Line. Elgin talked about the fact that Capital Metro owns other rail from
Austin east toward Manor, Elgin, and Giddings. The catch being that Leander is
a member of Capital Metro now (via partial sales tax contribution) and Elgin is
not, which creates funding challenges for the commuter rail line they would
like to see. Personally, I can see how commuter rail could benefit Austin,
especially in the long run (as such systems do in the Chicago, Boston, and New York City areas), but we
also need to have a robust, efficient system within the City of Austin for the
residents of Austin (as well as all the people that a commuter rail system
could bring into the area). I also think that we should be willing to consider
different funding sources for various parts of an overall system as one funding
solution may not fit all cases.
The January 14th meeting involved presentations from the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) and
the Central Texas Regional Mobility
Authority (CTRMA). RECA's downtown
parking proposal focuses on car-based transport. However, they implicitly
make the point that no matter what kind of mass transit Austin does or doesn't
add to the central city, we'll need some sort of improved parking situation for
downtown just because of increased population. One hopes that RECA and the
City of Austin (COA) will work together on unifying their parking
proposals so we're not duplicating effort.
The RECA proposal includes a set of busses (the BAT) to move people around
downtown and to/from the proposed new garages. Exact routes and so forth are
yet to be determined. There was some mention of doing reserved lanes where
possible to better guarantee bus frequency and timeliness (as that really is
the only way to hold a schedule when there is traffic). RECA is proposing that
the parking garage spaces cost less than market value, and that people who pay
to park ride the BAT for free. It is undetermined whether non-parkers would
pay to ride the BAT. They also feel that Capital Metro's Dillo system is
outdated and should be replaced, possibly with the BAT. At the same time
Capital Metro has some group looking at how to update/restructure the Dillo.
Current Dillo services are free, which may or may not stay the case. Regarding
non-parker fees for BAT as well as updating the Dillo, one could argue that a
fareless zone should remain in downtown to encourage walking and transit use.
(This is similar to likely reasons behind Portland's fareless square.) There
was some concern over possible lost parking along the BAT route(s) due to
reserved lanes. The counter-point to that concern is that if we have this
system and good transit within Austin we're likely to have more people walking
in downtown and therefore less need for the street parking we might lose.
Those planning transit and running retail and whatnot in downtown will do well
to remember this and not hold so tightly to the "almighty adjacent-to-the-store
parking" some seem to hold so dear. (Note: As planning moves forward, I
expect reserved guideway will be a big point of debate, as any rail service
will benefit from it even more than bus service.)
Next, an observation. I think that we need to be conscious of how often our
transit planning and discussions are car-oriented in Austin. As we plan/ponder
for the future, we should consider a more mixed scenario, where pedestrians,
cyclists, cars, busses, and trains all exist. And specifically that Austin
could have a significant increase in pedestrian and transit use, if we plan our
city and transportation systems accordingly.
CTRMA talked about their recent 183A project and the financials behind it.
They also mentioned their willingness to be involved where possible with future
transit projects both in planning and construction and funding. So far (and
via their website) I get the impression
that CTRMA is pretty road oriented, and mostly toll at that. I think they're
not opposed to connecting with other forms of transit, and may be open to more
direct involvement in non-road transit, but I've not seen evidence of such.
Maybe that is just because there has been little discussion of non-road transit
And now for a little semi-random discussion. RECA's proposal mentions using
rubber-tire vehicles for the BAT route. That's fine and all, as the BAT may be
a permanent thing or an interim until better/other central Austin transit is
available. However, I think people should be aware that there are advantages
to light rail (LRT) over bus rapid transit (BRT). LRT vehicles last longer and
have the possibility of more passengers per driver. LRT tends to be electric,
not diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG) or hybrid, while BRT can be any of
those. LRT and BRT, when done correctly, both have reserved guideway of some
sort. Also, LRT is usually more permanent due to more construction required,
or when BRT is done correctly, just the impression that rail is more permanent
than bus. That permanence tends to garner greater development related to
transit in a particular corridor. So, despite higher initial cost, LRT seems
(without my doing a ton of research) to have greater benefit and lower cost of
ownership over the long term.
Next I'll expound a bit on density. Greater density is here and coming in
various areas of town. It doesn't have to, and probably won't happen
everywhere in town. (And we won't reach Manhattan's density levels.) Density
isn't all bad especially if we're a bit careful. It can bring gentrification
and higher cost of living, but it doesn't necessarily have to. I'm no expert,
but I bet there are ways to preserve the character of various neighborhoods and
encourage a percentage of affordable housing units. In my experience areas
with a mix of people and a mix of income levels are more interesting. I think
such can be preserved as an area densifies. I think, if we try, we can keep
the more central, dense areas from becoming exclusive to the wealthy. This is
not to say that more homogeneous, boring neighborhoods don't have their place,
just that we don't have to let everything feel like that. Let's leave that to
the more sprawly suburbs, OK? ;-)
2008.01.03 at 09:55 AM CST
(Thursday, January 03rd, 2008)
First, an editorial from the IHT, called What's your
Next, after my previous rant about transit in Austin, I may attempt to attend
the next couple meetings of a few groups. Those groups being the Austin City Council,
the Council's Land Use and
Transportation Subcommittee, CAMPO's Transportation Policy
Board, and CAMPO's
Transit Working Group. I'll see how those go and decide from there how
much involvement I think I can manage.
Finally, a few post-travel photos are
2007.12.31 at 11:15 AM CST
(Monday, December 31st, 2007)
A few amusements of late:
- Reading the NANOG mailing list via
Gmane and MT-NewsWatcher
- photophlow (possibly more
interesting if you remember flickr-live, but photophlow is written in
Before I forget... Happy solstice (late, I know) and new year (a bit early).
On another topic, I continue to read information about transit
in Austin and other areas, and am
still amazed to find how many people don't know that the coming rail service
from Capital Metro is commuter rail, not
light rail. Second,
people seem unaware of the differences between them. At least in Austin,
commuter rail is about getting people into town from the suburbs (or just one
suburb in our current case) while light rail tends to move people around a
dense urban area (and on occasion link to outlying park and ride lots). People
in Austin seem to be under the impression that Capital
MetroRail will do the latter, which doesn't seem to be the actual case.
It is past time to pay attention to transit in Austin. But late is
better than never.
Supposedly, central Austin will be getting something approximating Bus Rapid Transit
(BRT) in the form of Capital
MetroRapid. This is supposed to happen after the commuter rail goes into
service. Also, the people in central Austin who most likely were the stronger
supporters of light rail in the failed 2000 election will get something
Situations like the current one regarding transit in Austin tend to
put off usable (light) rail transit even longer as the perception becomes that
rail transit doesn't work, when the real problem is/was that the wrong rail
was built. The similarities between Austin and south
Florida are just scary.
Maybe this frustrates me too much. Maybe it is due to my travels to walkable
cities with good transit. Maybe I should just give up and move to San
Francisco or Portland or similar? Some of those alternate areas would even
have politics I find more agreeable (vs. Texas in general; Austin's are more
tolerable). Is it telling that my desktop randomizer picked a subway shot from NYC as I'm
finishing this entry? ;-)
One more thing... I see people mention
that rail is more expensive and less
fuel efficient than bus. What they conveniently ignore is that subway and
light rail are nearly always electric (not diesel) and that they attract riders
who almost never ride a bus. They also tend to have their own right of way and
are therefore immune to delays on the "normal" road system. Rail transit turns
out to be more consistent and faster than buses. It is also less expensive, or at least a
break-even, in the long term; but realizing that would require us to think
about the long term, and what's the likelihood of that?
2007.12.11 at 01:20 AM CST
(Tuesday, December 11th, 2007)
I have a couple things to link today. First are several articles from the IHT.
Next is a bit about transit in Austin. But first a semi-rhetorical question.
Do we, the general populace in Austin, want our city to look more like Dallas
and/or Houston in 20+ years than it does now? Do we want to spend a bunch more
time adding to sprawl that we already have only to find out, as both of the afore-mentioned
have, that more and more roads do not an efficient transit system make? Or do
we want to behave more like, say, Portland
and do something intelligent now? Come on people! Think about this. Really.
Speaking of roads and sprawl... Fix290 has
some interesting reading regarding alternate ways to increase/improve automobile
transit through the Oak Hill part of Austin.
Finally, I have a couple of amusements for you. First is Drainspotting. Second is Dial-a-Stranger.
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